ATA president to Coca-Cola: Anti-trucking Super Bowl ad misleading

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A television advertisement planned by Coca-Cola for Super Bowl Sunday inaccurately reflects the trucking industry’s safety record, ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in a letter written last week to E. Neville Isdell, Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive officer.

The pending commercial — profiled in the Jan. 19 edition of USA Today — features a loaded semi-tractor trailer forcing a much smaller passenger vehicle off the road to kick off a Super Bowl 2006 Full Throttle national advertising campaign. Graves, writing on behalf of federation members and professional drivers, told Isdell the anti-trucking TV spot “will reinforce and help perpetuate a negative stereotype that the trucking industry and our professional drivers have fought long and hard to overcome.”

Graves wrote that a U.S. Department of Transportation announcement that the 2004 fatal crash rate for large trucks had dropped to its lowest point since the federal government began keeping large truck safety records in 1975 “is a tribute to the ongoing safety efforts being made by our motor carriers and their drivers.”

Given that every single product produced by Coca-Cola is delivered by trucks throughout the production and marketing processes, Graves asked Isdell that “Coca-Cola showcase its great product in a manner that does not do so at the expense of our industry image.”